Psychiatric comorbidity and causal disease models

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Abstract

In psychiatry, comorbidity is the rule rather than the exception. Up to 45% of all patients are classified as having more than one psychiatric disorder. These high rates of comorbidity have led to a debate concerning the interpretation of this phenomenon. Some authors emphasize the problematic character of the high rates of comorbidity because they indicate absent zones of rarities. Others consider comorbid conditions to be a validator for a particular reclassification of diseases. In this paper we will show that those at first sight contrasting interpretations of comorbidity are based on similar assumptions about disease models. The underlying ideas are that firstly high rates of comorbidity are the result of the absence of causally defined diseases in psychiatry, and second that causal disease models are preferable to non-causal disease models. We will argue that there are good reasons to seek after causal understanding of psychiatric disorders, but that causal disease models will not rule out high rates of comorbidity-neither in psychiatry, nor in medicine in general. By bringing to the fore these underlying assumptions, we hope to clear the ground for a different understanding of comorbidity, and of models for psychiatric diseases. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-752
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume57
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2013

Keywords

  • Comorbidity
  • Psychiatry
  • Disease classification
  • Causal models of disease
  • PROPOSED META-STRUCTURE
  • DSM-V
  • GENERAL-POPULATION
  • HEART-FAILURE
  • CO-MORBIDITY
  • DISORDERS
  • ICD-11
  • PREVALENCE
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • VALIDITY

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